That family institution since 1989, the Land Rover Discovery, is on a charge for 2021 – a 48-volt jolt in fact to spark up its performance in the seven-seat SUV market it pioneered.
The update, the first for the fourth-generation model since it hit the market in 2017, puts new powertrains centre stage, along with better infotainment and a styling tidy-up front and rear, leaving signature Disco attributes – seven seats, 3.5-tonne towing, Terrain Response off-road ability – unchanged.
New 3.0-litre straight-six mild hybrid (MHEV) engines with 48-volt “superchargers” to boost performance and efficiency are the big news. The new lead-in diesel model (D250) might get only a 10PS power hike over the outgoing four-pot oil-burner (now 249PS, or 183kW), but it comes with a big torque boost (570Nm instead of 430Nm) and a reduction in CO2 emissions from 220 to 216g/km.
The D250 is also quicker than the model it replaces with 0-62mph in 8.1 seconds. You can also get this new straight-six diesel in 300PS form for 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds. This D300 version comes with 650Nm of torque, only 50Nm shy of the old V6 diesel it replaces.
It all amounts to six-cylinder performance with four-cylinder efficiency, says Land Rover. The key is a 48-volt integrated starter-generator that harvests power on the overrun, stores it in lithium-ion batteries and then deploys it via an electric “supercharger” when you put your foot down. As well as a seamless boost to power and torque, Land Rover says it makes the stop-start system slicker as well as impressing for typical straight-six engine refinement.
But, some might say, it’s a diesel. Aren’t diesels out of favour? Discoverys and diesels have always been the ideal fit and this new Ingenium mild hybrid diesel promises to strengthen that. Apart from their efficiency advantage, the new D250 and D300 units are RDE2-certified and Euro 6d-Final compliant – gobbledegook for engines that can meet the toughest air quality regs anywhere in the world.
The same mild hybrid tech is used in the new petrol range-topper, the Discovery P360. The new engine is a 3.0-litre straight-six with 360PS (265kW) and 500Nm of torque from 1,750rpm. With 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds it is the fastest of the new breed.
The only other petrol Disco – and now cheapest model in the whole line-up – is the P300 featuring the only carried-over engine in the updated range, and the only one not to be electrified. As before this is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with 300PS (221kW) and 400Nm of torque. 0-62mph takes 7.3 seconds.
Prices are up, from £48,640 to a new entry point of £53,090 for the lead-in petrol version in S trim. It would appear easier to justify the hike with the equivalent new electrified diesel model, which costs from £53,655 – at least here you are getting a heck of a lot more engine over the old model.
All the new six-pot Discoverys gain a variable-torque all-wheel-drive system that Land Rover says helps improve fuel economy and reduce CO2 emissions without detracting from off-road ability. A low-range transfer case is standard on the P360 petrol and optional on all others.
All of them also gain Pivi Pro, JLR’s catchily-named new infotainment system that’s faster and better connected than before and comes with a larger 11.4-inch touchscreen on the revamped centre console. Benefits include an on-board 4G hotspot capable of linking up to eight devices. Other changes inside include a new fresh air filtration system, new steering wheel and better-shaped seats for second-row passengers.
Will you notice the new model? The design hasn’t changed much, but where it has changed is for the better, especially in R Dynamic trim as shown in the pictures. The lights front and back are new, as are the bumper sections. And all models get a new black panel across the rear – which at least goes some way to taking your mind off the still-lopsided numberplate.
But when you among the most capable, connected and versatile seven-seat premium SUVs in the world in what is now a very crowded marketplace, being a little left-field is perhaps no bad thing…